LONDON — The skull and crossbones will fly over Europe this weekend.
Opening day results for “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” in the U.K., France, Spain and Italy give reason for Mouse House brass to be confident Johnny Depp’s crew will deliver on the hype.
In Italy, early signs for the pic are promising, where it plundered $1.9 million on Wednesday and Thursday, according to box office compiler Cinetel, which monitors about 80% of the country’s screens.
Although so far the Italo haul is paltry in comparison to Spidey’s record-breaking $4 million first day take, the Peter Parker pic opened on the May Day holiday, which makes a huge difference.
“Pirates” is going out in Italy on a massive 1,000 screens, nearly half the country’s total. Local exhibs project a final cume in excess of $20 million.
According to Brit bookers, “Pirates 3” snatched $4 million at 534 on its first day. That result is 15% down on the first day for “Pirates 2,” which did $4.6 million.
Despite the drop off, the result was welcomed by Brit exhibs, who attribute the 15% slide to hot weather on Thursday.
U.K. exhibs are projecting a “Pirates 3” opening three-day haul close to $24 million and a $35 million plus take for the first five days. The five day figure includes the $4 million already in the coffers and a bumper $7 million swag from biz on Monday, a holiday in the U.K.
Reviews for “Pirates 3” from the Brit crix have been largely negative: “Almost experimentally devoid of basic cinematic energy, like a fractious three-hour script conference they forgot to convert into a movie,” adjudged Daily Telegraph reviewer Tim Robey, adding, “shun it, spurn it, see something better, or we’ll only have ourselves to blame for that dread vessel, looming spine-chillingly on the horizon, and manned by an exhausted crew of stars with their souls in hock: ‘Pirates 4’.”
But while five-star reviews are thin on the ground, not all crix have been as damning as Robey. “The best way to enjoy it is to turn off your confused brain and simply give your eyes a treat. There’s always something to marvel at,” admired Steve Rose in the Guardian.
In Spain, as in Italy and the U.K., first day “Pirates” figures make promising reading for Disney execs: the pic scored $900,000 on Thursday.
The decent first day figure has Spanish bookers predicting a Friday-Sunday weekend take of at least $10.7 million. Bookers suggest rainy weather could help “Pirates 3” pillage the opening three-day weekend record held by “The Da Vinci Code” ($11.7 million). Other targets in sight are “Pirates 2” ($11.6 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($10.9 million).
A potential distraction for Spanish auds this weekend is televised soccer. As the first division enters the last three games, four teams — Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia and Sevilla — are all still in with a shot of the title. The nail-biting finale is captivating Spanish soccer fans.
In Germany, no figures were available for “Pirates” bow at time of press. As elsewhere in Europe, the actioner faces no real competish from fellow openers. German bookers report that many arthouse sites are making room for “Pirates” due to the massive pre-release buzz.
In Gaul, “Pirates 3” generated an impressive $3 million at 783 on its first day, Wednesday, based on 426,000 admissions.
The robust opening was especially impressive given that “Pirates” is dropping anchor at a marketplace already brimming with success stories.
Slipping just 9% week-on-week, “Spider-Man 3” took $7.3 million at 850 to move its cume to $43.7 million.
David Fincher’s serial killer thriller “Zodiac” looks set for a decent soph sesh after its punchy bow. Energised by its splashy Cannes preem, the pic raked in $3.7 million at 376 in its first five days last weekend.
A pair of Gallic openers bowed May 23 to offer an alternative to the summer juggernauts.
Christophe Honore’s quirky musical/romantic comedy “The Love Songs,” toplining Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier, had a solid opening day for Bac: it earned $80,137 on 225. Like “Zodiac,” the pic is in contention for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Top Gallic thesp Sophie Marceau’s second feature as a helmer, “La Disparue de Deauville,” made a decent $91,886 on 208 for SND. Reviews have been lukewarm to merciless for the crime thriller, starring Marceau and Christophe Lambert. “This reincarnation thriller is … far more boring than thrilling,” yawned TeleCineObs.
In Italy, 01 Distribution opens Zhang Yimou’s “Curse of the Golden Flower” on 155 and is hoping it will score as counterprogramming to the swashbuckler.
Neil Jordan’s Ireland-set transvestite story “Breakfast on Pluto” is being outed on 70 via Fandango, while Fox is releasing Brit stage adaptation “The History Boys” on a modest 20.
For more cerebral Spaniards, unimpressed by popcorn blockbusters or soccer, Alta offers “Una Mujer invisible.” Local bookers predict Spanish helmer Gerardo Herrero’s “attractively marketed” middle-age crisis drama should score a decent screen average.
Also looking to gain traction at upmarket Spanish sites is critically-acclaimed U.S. indie “Half Nelson.”
Additional reporting by Nick Vivarelli (Italy), John Hopewell (Spain) Christian Koehl (Germany) and David Hayhurst (France).